Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Drowning Man - Margaret Coel

The Drowning Man
Margaret Coel
Berkley Prime Crime


You might think that a petroglyph carved into a canyon wall would be fairly safe where it is. Especially when it’s situated on the reservation of the Arapaho Indians, who revere the sign. Unfortunately, where there’s enough of a will, there’s a way to take anything. Father O’Malley discovers this truth one morning when a stranger demands that he deliver a message to the Indian peoples on and around the Wyoming reservation: the petroglyph called The Drowning Man, literally chiseled from the rock wall, is being held for $250,000 ransom. Father O’Malley delivers the message, but, being no fool, also calls the FBI.

Vicky Holden, an Arapaho, is a lawyer with her own practice. The local population wants her to find a way to stop a logging company from building roads and harvesting in the same canyon, since it’s sacred space to them. As if she doesn’t have enough on her plate, Vicky has also taken on the case of Travis Birdsong, who was convicted of murder seven years earlier. When the cases begin to converge, Vicky and Father O’Malley are thrown together again.

This is the twelfth novel in this series, and it’s a real standout. The author manages to weave in historical details about petroglyphs, current information about the black market in ancient artifacts, environmental discussions, and even the topic of pedophile priests; all without losing track of the characters and central mystery. The characters are quite complex, having had many books to develop, and the new characters seem just as sharp. The mystery is involving and will delight new and longtime fans alike. A new Margaret Coel mystery is always a happy find. This one is no exception.

Rating: 8 ½
September 2006
ISBN# 0-425-21171-1 (hardcover)


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